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Homemade Organic Oyster Stew with Crackers and Parsley. - Brent Hofacker
Homemade Organic Oyster Stew with Crackers and Parsley. - Brent Hofacker

We are looking forward to the holiday season, a time when we celebrate friends and family, sometimes with a glass of sparkling wine in hand. Sparkling wine has been used to toast special events for centuries, but all too often we enjoy them without food.

Sparkling wine is an incredibly versatile style when it comes to food and wine matching. Crisp & Light drier styles match well with a variety of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres, but also pairs well with seafood, especially shellfish. Aromatic & Vibrant styles can often pair well with aromatic Asian cuisine as well as fruit based desserts and salty cheeses. Then there are the Rich & Full styles such as Champagne and Nova Scotia’s own Traditional Method sparkling wines.

These work with a full gamut of seasonal offerings.

They can awaken the palate as an aperitif, pair well with seafood such as smoked salmon, match local shellfish such as lobster, scallops and oysters or even be served with poultry and seafood main courses. As we enter the holiday season, consider popping the cork of a sparkling wine to enjoy with a midweek meal. Your tastebuds will thank you.

Oyster Chowder

6 to 8 Servings

Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes

Total Time: More than 1 hour

Ingredients:

1 lb Spanish-style chorizo, chopped

1 head fennel, outer leaves removed, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, diced

1 onion, diced

3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 cups seafood stock

2 cups yellow fleshed potatoes, diced

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Parsley, chopped, for garnish

Paprika, for garnish

Directions:

Place chorizo in pot set over medium heat. Sauté until crispy. Remove and set aside. Add olive oil to pot. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the vegetables and thyme. Sauté until the vegetables are soft and translucent. While vegetables are cooking, make a roux in a separate pot. Melt butter over medium-low heat. When butter is melted, add the flour and stir until a thick paste forms. Transfer roux, along with the stock and potatoes to the pot of vegetables. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add freshly shucked oysters. Simmer for 3 minutes to cook oysters. Serve warm. Garnish with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve with a baguette and side salad to make a complete meal.

Here's how: Baked oysters

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees farenheit. Place 12 oysters on baking sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes.

2. While the oysters are baking, combine the 1.4 cup chopped smoked bacon (fried until crispy), 2 tablespoons pesto and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika. Turn oven to broil.

3. Carefully pop open the oysters with an oyster shucker or knife. Top each oyster with equal amounts of the bacon mixture and top each with a teaspoon of finely grated Parmesan. Briol for one minute, or until cheese is melted.

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